“Truly I tell you, when you were younger, you would tie your belt and walk wherever you wanted. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will tie you and carry you where you don’t want to go.” He said this to indicate by what kind of death Peter would glorify God. After saying this, he told him, “Follow me.”
Historic tradition maintains that Peter himself was crucified and that he insisted his cross be turned upside down because the resemblance to Jesus’ death was too stark and he felt undeserving. Jesus prophesied such a death as crucifixion with his warning in verse 18. Note the word “glorify” in verse 19. We glorify God by our faith in the midst of suffering. Praising God while we prosper is easy, but praising Him while we suffer brings out a particular brand of praise that may be more sincere. God is worthy of worship both when we win the lottery and when we lose a loved one to cancer. So, resolve based on this text never to confuse suffering with a disproof of God’s Word. Those who mistake faith in Christ for a free pass from suffering are ignorant of Scripture. To the Christian, suffering is an opportunity to demonstrate faith.
Meditate on the words “carry you where you don’t want to go.” What do these words indicate about Jesus’ prophesied will for Peter? Are you currently being carried somewhere you don’t want to go? Have you harbored bitterness toward God because of this, or has the experience shaken your faith? If so, would you consider how God dealt with His own beloved Peter in this text? Your being dragged into something that glorifies God is not a disproof of God or His goodness, but it could be proof that you are at the epicenter of what God has planned for you. Now, glorify God precisely where you are.
Jesus just told Peter that His will for Peter was a brutal death against Peter’s wishes. Where do people get the idea that following Jesus brings only happiness on earth?
Pray: Acknowledge before God that all the days of your life will be either in the midst of suffering, or awaiting suffering as it approaches from the horizon. Commit to praise Him in both seasons.